This jaunty and comprehensive look at Oscar history and lore encompasses the larger social and cultural implications of a narrow subject. Levy, a senior film reviewer for Variety, draws on an extraordinarily detailed knowledge of Hollywood history, providing intriguing factoids to supplement his assertions and analysis about subjects like gender, age and race in Hollywood, and probing such essential questions as whether the Oscars are a ""popularity contest."" Levy supplies all the technical details of the nomination process, the rank of the Oscars among other film industry awards and a wide array of statistics (e.g., 20% of all actresses and 5% of actors are under 25 years of age when they receive nominations for best performance). Meanwhile, his analysis of why films about race, such as Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and In the Heart of the Night, receive Oscar nominations is thoughtful and savvy. No sociological question escapes Levy's notice, and he's got an answer for everything. Do roles that emphasize suffering and victimization help women win Oscars? (Yes.) Does the use of accents help performers win? (Not singlehandedly, but they help.) Can even a single Oscar overhype a career? (Very often, yes.) While on the surface these questions seem facile, he integrates them into the larger industry and social portrait, demonstrating their wider ramifications. (Mar. 23) Forecast: Film scholars may find this book unnecessary, but Oscar fans will enjoy it. Originally scheduled for January publication, the book is now slated for publication only two days before the telecast of the 73rd Academy Awards. Any earlier delivery to bookstores will only enhance this title's chances for success.